I’m sure that, like Betty and I, you have keepsakes around your home. Trinkets and memorabilia that mean something special to you. Like my small collection of rocks gathered during family trips. Or the handmade cards from when the kids were younger. Or the hand-me-down keepsakes of generations past. One such keepsake in our home is an old bent handle hickory cane. Pretty much like any old cane except, for one thing, it belonged to my great-great-grandfather Adam Heinold. Adam immigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1870’s and settled near Morton Illinois. And that means practically nothing to most of you, and that’s ok and expected. The reason Adam’s old hickory stick cane is important to this article is because it helps us to consider something that Jesus taught.
In John 14 Jesus is explaining several spiritual truths concerning what was going to happen to Him and the coming role of the Holy Spirit. During that discussion, Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:23–24, NASB95) “Keep” is the interesting word in these verses. Keep can hold many meanings such has to hold on to something, as in “Keep it safe”. Like a keepsake. However, “keep”, in these verses is better defined as obey, observe, or follow. For example, by driving 35 in 35 miles an hour zone we are observing, keeping, obeying the speed limit. So, what Jesus is teaching us is that if we truly love Him we will keep, obey, follow, observe His word.
This is where we need to look at our walk with Jesus in this world. Are Jesus’ words keepsakes or something that shapes our entire life. In other words, do we hear Jesus’ teaching, pick out the words that sparkle and treat them as keepsakes; a touch point to the past or a promise for the future. Or does Jesus’ words shape us like DNA? Not only did I inherit Adam’s cane and carry his name but more importantly I carry his DNA along with that of many other families. That DNA soup shapes what I look like and perhaps even informs parts of my personality. In other words, its shapes me in profound ways. In the same way, Jesus’ word is not to be kept on a shelf, occasionally dusted off and remembered. Instead, Jesus’ word is to become an ever-increasing part of our spiritual DNA which shapes us to model Christ in our world.
It’s possible that the question of what Jesus’ meant by His word could rise up. Instead of writing out a reasonable explanation to that question I have a challenge for you. Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Then read them again, and then again. Feel free to change up the order and to use different translations. It’s best to try and get this done in 60-90 days but time is not the important factor. If at the end of the challenge you still don’t see Jesus’ word let me know but I don’t think that will be a problem. Oh one warning, doing this challenge will shape your life in ways you may not expect.